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Artist & Weaver | Spring Concentration with Mary Zicafoose

Tapestries woven in indigo, yellow, and white.
Two recent tapestries in the “Mountains and Ghosts” series by Mary Zicafoose.

 

Are you a weaver? It’s a question that asks more than whether or not you can weave. At its heart, the question probes our personalities and preferences, asking about the processes that speak to us and the mental spaces which we most like to inhabit. Weaving is not for everyone, but it definitely is for tapestry artist Mary Zicafoose. “From the first moment I sat at a loom, there was not a question in my mind that I was a weaver,” she says. That was over twenty years ago, and Mary has been weaving ever since.

“There is something timeless and inner-dimensional about the process of weaving,” Mary explains. “The work takes weeks. As the planet speeds along, the weaver sits hour by hour, day by day, slowly and steadily building a tapestry. No amount of adrenaline, caffeine, or technology alters the pace of the unfolding. To be a weaver is an almost surreal occupation placed against the backdrop of linear time, and the pace, demands, and deadlines of contemporary life. Nothing in the making of a tapestry happens quickly. It is a deep inward breath, a meditative activity that draws you in, not out.”

So, are you a weaver? If yes, Mary’s spring 2016 concentration Artist & Weaver could be a transformative eight weeks. The class is tailored to intermediate weavers, those who already have some experience at the loom. As such, it will cover the technical aspects of weaving, but it will also go beyond to focus on weaving as an art. Registration is now open.

 

geometric tapestries woven in red and blue
Three of Mary’s many tapestries: “Counting Cloth #5 – Double Orbit,” “Orange Blue Eclipse,” and “Sun with Shadow.”

 

How can each artist tell a unique story in a unique voice? It’s a question that Mary has been focused on with her pieces for years. As a weaver, she has developed a distinct expression of ideas through the imagery and colors she chooses. “I use color boldly, with a sure hand, creating strong visual statements in fiber. It is my relationship with color, the use of intensely dyed primaries within large planes and fields of color, which distinguishes my work,” she says. One of Mary’s goals for the class is to help each of her students to develop their own woven voice—be it a bright and bold one like Mary’s or one characterized more by softness and subtlety.

As part of her focus on color, Mary will bring in guest instructor Catharine Ellis for part of the class. Catharine, like Mary, has developed a distinct voice in fiber over the years. Hers is distinguished by the use of natural dyes and innovative techniques in woven shibori. Catherine will share her expertise in dyeing with the class, helping to give each student the palette they need to weave their visions into tapestries.

If you are ready to take your weaving to the next level, or if you would like to work with master weavers and dyers, or if you could simply use eight weeks of focus at the loom—join Mary this spring in the textiles studio.

Register now for Artist & Weaver, which will run March 13 – May 6, 2016. Scholarships are available for the course. Scholarship applications are due November 28, 2015.

 

Artist & Weaver

This eight-week textile intensive will provide mentorship with the goal of igniting and focusing studio practice. Our main areas of emphasis are as follows: Developing personal voice at the loom: we’ll build tapestries in series using classic and slit tapestry techniques, surface design, compression and resist applications, stitching, and off-loom embellishments. Color: guest teacher Catharine Ellis will lead us in a dyeing workshop that will help students gain creative fluency with both synthetic and natural dyes. Professional practice: the workshop will include a strategic planning curriculum for artists: goal setting, statements, résumés, PowerPoint, social media, record keeping, promotion, exhibition, and more. Intermediate level: prior weaving experience required. Code S00TB

Studio artist; teaching: Arrowmont (TN), Penland, weaver’s guilds nationwide; recent exhibitions: World Ikat and Shibori Conference (China), Joslyn Art Museum (NE); work in 12 U.S. embassies worldwide.

maryzicafoose.com

ellistextiles.com

 

And, just to get you excited for spring classes to start, here’s a short video of Mary talking about her work as a weaver and an artist:

 

Penland Spring Concentrations, March 13 – May 6, 2016
Books  |  Clay  |  Glass  |  Iron  |  Metals  |  Textiles  |  Wood

 

 

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Empty Bowls at the Penland Coffee House

empty-bowls
The bowls were stacking up last week in anticipation of the Empty Bowls event at the Penland Coffee House.

 

Students in the clay concentration with Suze Lindsay and Kent McLaughlin are hosting an Empty Bowls event this week at the Penland Coffee House. Visitors can make a $20 donation to fight hunger, enjoy a simple lunch-time meal of soup prepared by the Penland kitchen, and take home a unique bowl made by a student in the class. The Empty Bowls meal will be available at the Penland Coffee House Monday, November 2 – Friday, November 6 from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

The Empty Bowls Project was started twenty-five years ago by Lisa Blackburn and John Hartom, who live nearby in Yancey County. The success of the project spread rapidly, and today communities around the globe join the Empty Bowls Project by offering a simple soup meal served in donated handmade bowls as a reminder of all of the empty bowls in the world. The money raised from each event goes to a hunger-fighting organization chosen by the hosts. The Penland project’s proceeds will go to Mitchell County Shepherd’s Staff, a non-profit organization providing food and heating assistance to Mitchell county residents in need.

With all the rain we’re getting today, it’s a perfect day for some soup!

 

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The Northwind Hammer

hammer and other blacksmithing tools
The Northwind Hammer in the California shop of David Browne, its first recipient. Image: David Browne

 

“The Northwind brings change. Sometimes a dramatic storm, a swirl of luminescent clouds, or a sensation that precipitates an uneasy ambiance in the valley. Colossal gusts, howling, trees bending, everything moving and swaying. The birds and insects disappear. Slowly…it fades. Vitality is restored and a pleasant stillness remains. Every grace of nature resurfaces. This is the natural phenomena that inspired ‘Northwind’. I’ve created a hammer to exemplify the inhale, expansion, and release of the wind.” —Brent Bailey

 

Just like the north wind, blacksmith Brent Bailey’s handmade hammer is traveling and shifting and altering its surroundings. It moves from place to place, from artist to artist. First California, then on to Virginia and Tennessee and Texas. At each location, the hammer stays for a couple weeks, inspiring its current owner’s work in some way. It is an opportunity, a cue to think differently or try something new. And then it moves on. Twelve different artists will each incorporate the hammer into their forges before it ultimately makes its way back to Brent in California.

 

Andy Dohner and the Northwind Hammer
Andy Dohner holding the Northwind Hammer

 

This spring, the Northwind Hammer made a visit to Andy Dohner. At the time, Andy was in the Penland iron studio teaching our spring 2015 concentration. He and his students, like the blacksmiths before them, assimilated the Northwind Hammer into their studio work. It was both a tool in their creative process and the inspiration for that process. As Andy commented, “The concept we are using with the Northwind is one hammer, eleven students. Together we are working on a sculpture of an astrolabe.”

 

the spring 2015 iron students
Andy and his students in the Penland iron studio this spring

 

The astrolabe is an ancient tool, one which captures the changing positions of the sun and stars in the sky. Just like the north wind, it brings to mind time and travel and strips bare our sense of constancy. And, just like the Northwind Hammer, the astrolabe is a relatively simple tool which opens up new doors for those who use it. How appropriate, then, that Andy and his class selected this subject as the focus of their work. Their completed sculpture combines the nested circles and rule of an astrolabe with the simplicity of the hammer itself.

 

metal astrolabe sculpture
The finished astrolabe sculpture created by Andy and his class

 

The sculpture may be finished, but the Northwind Hammer’s journey is not. From Penland, it traveled on to Jim Masterson at the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Tennessee. Next, it made stops in California, Detroit, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Massachusetts, collecting stories and each artist’s touchmark along the way. In these places, the projects the hammer was a part of were as varied as its locations, from sculptural metal feathers to a railing recreation to a patterned table frame.

The Northwind Hammer has one last stop before it returns home to its creator. Its final location and artist are still unknown, but one thing is already certain: the Northwind Hammer altered the creations of the blacksmiths who received it, and they, in turn, altered it. As Brent reflected, the work of each artist “imparts and impregnates their essence into the steel.”

To read more about the hammer and follow its journey, visit Brent Bailey’s Northwind page.

 

 

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Printers in the Making | Fall Concentration with Phil Sanders

Phil Sanders working in a print shop

“Printmaking in and of itself is a very simple idea,” says Phil Sanders. “It’s the transfer of one image from one surface to another.” But this simple definition belies the true complexity and range of options available to the skilled printmakerlayers of ink and paper, levels of opacity, a myriad of textures and techniques. And if one thing is for sure, it’s that Phil Sanders is a skilled printmaker. Lucky for us, he’ll be coming to Penland this fall to teach an 8-week concentration on the ins and outs of his trade, including etching, aquatint, drypoint, and more. The course, as he says, “is a rare occasion to get an intaglio apprenticeship-style immersion.”

Space is still open in this print concentration, and some work-study scholarships are still available. Register here.

 

Printers in the Making

Phil Sanders – As a printer and a printmaker, I understand the difficulty of switching between “printer brain” and “artist brain.” The pull between “how to do” and “what to do” can leave you lost in the middle. Consider this class a technical apprenticeship combined with the creative space to experiment with your artistic voice. We’ll demystify all intaglio processes plus monotype, monoprint, and chine-collé. We’ll make ink, grounds, and drawing supplies, review tool maintenance, paper conservation, and more. We’ll tackle drawing, composition, design, and color theory through drawing calisthenics and composition exercises. This workshop is ideal for artists looking to hone their printmaking skills and artistic voice or working toward becoming professional printers. All levels. Code F00X

Phil Sanders is the director of PS Marlowe, a creative services consultancy firm. He is a former director and master printer at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop (NYC) and a former master printer for Universal Limited Art Editions (NY). Phil’s teaching experience includes Stanford University (CA), San Francisco State University (CA), and numerous courses at Penland.

phillipsanders.com

 

Two prints by Phil Sanders
Two prints by Phil Sanders. At left, “Check Mate,” a lithograph with digital inkjet and watercolor. At right, “Black Star (IQ Test),” a six-color silkscreen.

 

Phil Sanders Print
“Presence of Another,” a four-color letterpress print by Phil Sanders.

 

In a 10-Minute Talk created for MoMA, Phil emphasizes that printmaking is a very old and diverse fieldhumans have been making prints ever since the first footprint in the sand. “One of the major reasons that printmaking has survived and continues to thrive is its collaborative nature. Printmaking is never done wholly within in a vacuum. It’s a cumulative knowledge process that we add to as participants in it.” If you want to be part of that rich history, eight weeks of instruction and experimentation with a master printer might just be your chance.

 

REGISTER NOW FOR FALL CONCENTRATIONS
September 20 – November 13, 2015

 

As for the rest of us, we can at least get a taste by watching Phil in this short video on intaglio processes!

 

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Inside 8 Weeks of Penland Letterpress

students printing on Penland's letterpress equipment
Penland letterpress photo by Lauren Faulkenberry

 

Spring and fall are intense times at Penland. Students and instructors spend eight full weeks here, fully immersed in deep creative exploration in their studios. For many, these concentrations can be rigorous and sleep-depriving, but also enlightening, recharging, andultimatelytransformative.

Lauren Faulkenberry, who taught the spring concentration “Letterpress Books: Guts to Glory,” shared her thoughts in her blog about the “wild ride” that was eight weeks at Penland:

“To sum up: I had fantastic students. They made amazing things. We had a slew of letterpress adventures in the form of tiny books, broadsides, and ephemera that ran the gamut from poignant to wickedly funny and downright dirty. There was pressure printing, block carving, impromptu screen printing, and enough experimentation to warrant calling the studio a laboratory. Art. Science. Madness. Delight.”

 

Letterpress-printed poster advertising a studio open house
Open house poster photo by Lauren Faulkenberry

 

Lauren also describes one of the primary challenges of Penland concentrations: that constant tug-of-war between intense creative work and the rest needed to refuel our creative engines:

“It’s not easy teaching every day for eight weeks, even in a place that feels like paradise. I was often just too tired to work on my own projects after dinner each night, but it was hard to make myself leave the studio. There’s something about being surrounded by creative people in a flurry of breakthroughs and troubleshooting that makes it hard to walk away.”

Now that those eight weeks are over, Lauren reflected on what she took away from her eight weeks here at Penland. As many people do, she found it was much more than simply new techniques or a piece of work to be proud of:

“After a long cold winter, my students and my new friends breathed some life back into me. I won’t lieit was hard leaving there and coming back to the ‘real world’… But I’ve got a notebook full of ideas and a high-five poster that will remind me to keep doing that thing I love, and that path will most certainly cross the ones of all those great folks on the mountain that reminded me of why we do these things that keep calling us to do them.”

 

To read more about the moments that really stuck out in her eight-week class, see Lauren’s complete blog post here.